I began my journey with yoga in the mid to late seventies, a time when the ecology movement was just beginning. I had to travel to a YMCA to get to a class on a gym floor. I was taking tap and jazz dancing lessons at that time. My teacher was on vacation so I did the 30-day routines, following the instructions religiously. When she returned and I resumed classes she couldn’t get over how limber I was, somehow different, even my breathing was better. She asked what I had been doing. Not much except I was given a yoga book and decided to do the program while waiting for her to come back. She was impressed. I was too. I didn’t realize there could be a difference between traditional dance warmups versus yoga but there was. This feedback and observation have stayed with me ever since.
Years pass and I became a lecturer at the local University and incorporated my basic yoga routine from those first classes in each of my holistic studies classes. Athletes from basketball players to soccer were often inflexible. Athletes train for their sport and those muscle groups works really well but what about the rest of their body? Hamstrings were tight, backs couldn’t bend well. So many students commented on how much better they felt after a yoga class. Athletes were awakened to the fact that though they were good at a sport their bodies were not in as prime condition as they thought. This led to discussions and I only hope to inspiration for these young adults to value their body differently.
During this time I came across Mantak Chia’s book Awaken Healing Energy Through the Tao. He reminds me of the importance of respecting our body in its totality, not just a machine that we prod on and on. Every organ system is a community of cells, a neighborhood if you will, that functions in harmony with every other system creating an intricate interplay between all parts, united to serve the whole. When we are young, we give the body little thought except for cosmetic reasons or athletics. As we get older and see how the body can run down, we may step up to the plate and take better care. Often, as I have seen in my nursing career, folks often wait until an alarm bell sounds before making changes. We all do this, get disciplined, life interrupts, then we go back to our habits again.
This week, my podcast guest, Eaglemoon Raes, reminded me of Mantak Chia’s meditation, one that asks us to focus on each organ system and give thanks to that community.
- Sit quietly
- Place feet on the floor, back comfortable, breathe
- Bring your awareness to your heart. Feel your heart’s love.
- Feeling this love, focus your attention on each organ system: brain, eyes, ears, nose, mouth etc. all the way through your body.
- When done bring your awareness back to your breath and give thanks for your breath of life.
“These vital organs are intimately connected to our mind. Our body is the filter for all our perceptions, feelings, thoughts, as well as the storehouse for our memory, our very sense of identity.” (p. 21, Awaken Healing Energy through the Tao, by Mantak Chia)
Giving thanks for our bodies seems a timely reminder. Enjoy.
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